By Rachel Miller, Staff Writer
Long Island residents rolled out of bed early last Saturday morning to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness during the third annual WalkINN to Fight Hunger at the University. The one and a half mile walk raised money for The INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network), a not-for-profit organization that addresses issues of hunger and homelessness on Long Island. The organization provides food, shelter and long term housing to those in need with 16 soup kitchens in 22 locations, three emergency shelters and a long-term housing project that helps individuals get back into society and become self-sufficient.
"There are thousands of people on Long Island who are in need. There's probably 468,000 people who come and have to visit a soup kitchen," said Cynthia Sucich, the director of communications for The INN. She explained that one out of every 10 families on Long Island visits a soup kitchen or food pantry to receive help in order to make ends meet.
Participants in the walk, which included Hofstra students, received donations from sponsors or personally donated funds to The INN.
"It's a way of us reaching out to the community," said Anma Onyeuku, a sophomore forward on the Hofstra Women's Basketball team. Onyeuku and her teammates participated in the walk last year and came back this year to continue their support of The INN. The team also volunteers at The INN when they have time. "If we can pop our heads in and give a little support, then that's what we'll do," said Onyeuku.
The WalkINN to Fight Hunger grew out of a 10-mile walk that Hofstra hosted many years ago called the Hunger Walk.
"Three years ago, one of the volunteers came to us and said 'you know, the walk was a great thing. We had a lot of followers. We should get it started again.' So naturally we came back to Hofstra, and we asked if you could host us," said Nora White, the events coordinator for The INN.
The organization worked closely with the Office of Student Leadership and Activities to plan the event and pick a route for the family friendly walk. The INN's youth advisory board, a team of local high school students who help spread awareness of the organization's mission, setup a table and sold cupcakes and pastries to raise additional money.
"If all you do is spend your money and just look for yourself, that's all fine and good, but who did you help? This is a good cause to help people," said Chris Fidis, West Hempstead resident and founder of the Over 40 Need A Job Club. "If you pay it forward, the karma will follow you."